Hey Alpha Woman!
Last week, I introduced you to the 9 dimensions of your wellness, which is ultimately an opportunity to do some self-reflection and set measurable goals for the upcoming year. This week, we will focus on emotional wellness. Yes, we are doing some heart work. The bible teaches us to guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life.
I want you to take a moment to sit with that. Look at your life, look at your family, relationships, business, career, friendships, marriage and everything in your immediate sphere of influence. It started from the heart. It began in your thought life. What do you like about your life? What's going well? Don't give a half-hearted response that goes something like, "My life sucks right now, that's why I am reading your blog."
You woke up this morning, grabbed your smart device, and are reading this post from the internet. Already, you have it better than 736 million people. You have access. Somewhere out there is a young person with lots of potential, and no access. If you are looking and cannot find anything to be thankful for, it is more likely that you have stopped thanking God for the little things.
I remember when my son was in the NICU and transferred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). My husband was freaking out because he knew Emmanuel being in Philly meant I would be in Philly. In turn, this meant we would need to spend money on a hotel room, which meant bye bye savings because I definitely wasn't leaving my son in Philly by himself.
I on the other hand, was not worried about the cost. Instead, I thanked God for opening up the opportunity for my son to go to one of the best children's hospitals in the world. I thanked him for the coworker who recommended I call CHOP for a second opinion, for working in an environment where I had doctors, researchers, lawyers and advocates within arms reach, for my boss who told me to focus on my son and allowed me to work from Philly so we could transition, and for our health insurance policy that basically equated to, "Jesus paid it all".
I didn't fly from another country or leave my state, I still went to work. I lived in the Northeast which meant I was close to the best of the best. Proximity was everything. I continued to praise, and my husband continued to watch me. A few days before Emmanuel's transfer, a co-worker text me to tell me about an organization that housed families from far distances who had sick children.
The Ronald McDonald House's mission was to keep families together to promote healing, while alleviating the stress of room and board. They charged a ridiculously small fee per night which was waived if your child was in the hospital for more than one week. They had an insanely long waitlist, but my coworker said to try anyway.
Long story short, three days into my son's hospital stay, a room opened up at "the Inn". It was a lifesaver and nothing I expected from a charity organization. As someone with a background in Social Work, I observed how they treated the families. I watched how much care and attention they gave to the siblings of sick children.
This place was the best of the best, and it meant the difference between homelessness, poverty and hope for so many families. I listened to the stories of families whose children had been in and out of the hospital for years. Their lives had come to a complete stop. They talked about the medical bills that were way over their heads, they talked about the lost jobs, the siblings who were traumatized, the lost relationships and dreams. Every night, a new story.
I learned in that space that rain falls on the just and unjust. Tragedy is an equal opportunity offender and no matter where we stand today, our lives could change in an instant, for better or worse. In those moments, I became incredibly aware of my privilege--how God was shielding our household from destruction.
With that in mind, I went to work with a smile, said thank you to every kind gesture from strangers, coworkers and friends. I continued to serve in church, continued to volunteer my time, continued to give as God led me. I made it a point to help those I felt needed it the most because even in my dire circumstance, I had it better than so many families--and I did nothing to earn or deserve it.
I also avoided anyone who might want to feel bad for me. I avoided conversations that went anything like "If I were you...I would fall apart". The truth is, I needed to guard my heart and keep my faith on level 10 at all times. I didn't need sympathy, I needed encouragement and faith. It wasn't because I didn't have moments of sadness, it was because I knew now more than ever, I had to choose life over death.
I share this to say that even in the worst of conditions, you can find something to be grateful for. I remember a time in my life years ago when I struggled with depression and could not see the good in my life. A counselor I was seeing at the time encouraged me to get a gratitude journal and write down ten things I was grateful for each night.
I struggled at first, but I tell you now in my current season I can name at least thirty things I am grateful for in under one minute. I'm just that blessed, and it is not because my life is perfect. It is because I have learned that in counting my blessings, I make room for more.
I have learned that whatever I focus my attention on grows. During the past year and half, I have shifted my mental diet from nonsense tv and social media to books, songs, and podcasts that uplift my spirit and soul. My favorite by far was Joel Osteen's book, "Blessed in the Darkness: How All Things Are Working For Your Good".
It was an incredible read about how to find God in the valley seasons of our lives. A great series I listened to was Rick Warren's, "How to Get Through What Your Are Going Through", where he and his wife talked about dealing with the loss of their son due to mental illness.
I want to invite you to take a look at the condition of your heart and ask yourself:
1. What am I grateful for?
2. What area in my life am I struggling with?
3. What are the thoughts that fuel my struggle?
4. How do they make me feel?
5. What can I do to start shifting my heart and feelings in a more positive direction?
Ask God to help you with a simple prayer that goes something like this:
"My Daddy in heaven, I need your help. Your word says that if any of us lacks wisdom, to ask you and that you won't turn us away. I need wisdom to deal with ________________. I thank you in advance for answering my prayer. In Jesus' name, amen.
Please note: I call God "Daddy", cuz we are close like that ;)
As I said, we have to be honest about where we stand and how we really feel to get on this journey to our best, abundant life. If you like what you see, then great! Continue to show gratitude and press toward the mark.
But if you don't, understand that you don't have to stay stuck. I recommend downloading the You Version bible app and trying out some of their devotionals. A few great ones dealing with the heart include:
Disclaimer: A gratitude journal is a great way to count your blessings, lift your spirit, and see the upside of every down situation. But if you are really struggling in your heart and mind, and can't seem to get out of the rut, I want to encourage you to get help. Remember, the abundant life is a team sport. I've listed some resources below from psychguides.com.
Mental Health America Hotline: Text MHA to 741741. Mental Health America is a nationwide organization that provides assistance through this text line. You will be linked to someone who can guide you through a crisis or just provide information.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. Crisis intervention and free emotional support are available, which is helpful when you need confidential assistance during a time of emotional distress for you or a loved one. The helpline is open 24/7, and a live online chat is available as well.
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741. Specialized crisis counselors are just a text message away on this free, confidential 24-hour support line. To further protect your privacy, these messages do not appear on a phone bill. The text line also provides services and support if you are upset, scared, hurt, frustrated, or distressed.
I hope and pray this post inspires you to grab a hold of your heart, emotions, and thoughts.
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**This blog is not intended to replace the advice of a medical or mental health professional.
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